Case law: Child protection and Crown wardship of a very young child
Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton v K.R. (Mother) 2014CarswellOnt 14930: The one-year-old child at the centre of this case had been in the care of the CAS because the mother was not able to care for her. The mother had a number of serious challenges including mental health issues, drug use and others. Initially, the CAS provided the mother with the opportunity to address these issues. During this time, she had visits with the child that went well, although she missed many of the scheduled visits.
The CAS sought a summary judgment for crown wardship of the child with no access to the mother.
Justice Harper of the Ontario Superior Court, in making his decision, considered when a court should give up on a parent’s ability to rehabilitate enough to be able to raise their child, when crown wardship orders should exclude access and whether or not it is proper to make such decisions on a motion for summary judgment.
The first two issues were easily decided by Justice Harper, because the mother had failed completely to meet the requirements that the CAS had imposed upon her.
Justice Harper decided that the evidence was sufficient to establish that the best interests of the child would be served without the delay associated with a trial. The child was very young, had been in care for some time, the mother had not been able to meet any of the CAS’s requirements and had missed a number of the visits she had scheduled with her child.
There was not likely to be any new evidence at trial that would change the outcome, so Justice Harper concluded it was appropriate to make the order for crown wardship, no access, on a motion for summary judgment. As he noted:
Child development cannot wait for a parent to deal with multiple issues of parental and personal dysfunction when there are no indicators in the evidence that a parent can deal with those issues. In this case the mother has been dealing with significant multiple issues of transience, substance abuse and major mental health concerns for many years. She has not shown that she can be consistent with her ability to connect with programs and resources that will place her in a position to parent this child without significant risks to the child’s wellbeing and safety. . . The risks of harm cannot be reduced from their high level within any reasonable period of time. The mother simply has not shown any sustainable gains over many years.”